Engine oil pan heater?

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Jun 27, 2005
What do you guys know about those magnetic oil pan heaters? Good idea? Bad idea? Places like JC Whitney sell them. I have a short 3 mile commute and was considering one as a way to warm the oil before driving rather than have it freezing from start to finish on my commute. My concerns are that it will over heat the oil during the night, basically cook it up. Does anybody know how hot they get? One said it won't heat oil over 250 degrees - I don't know that I need my oil to be 250 degrees all night every night. Are there any that would just warm it up to around 100 degrees so I will have excellent flow at start-up during the winter?
-In a cold winter your lucky if the oil gets 60 degrees in the pan...with that being said, if your worried about it set a timer to start it a few hours before you leave. This is a great idea, but kinda of a pain to crawl under the car in the snow.
I have a Kat's K-1153 magnetic heater on my Civic. The installation brochure says the heating surface temp. ranges from 300 to 400 degrees but is thermostatically controlled and turns off and on as needed. An illustration shows that with air temp at minus 5 degrees oil temp will be 85 degrees. I park in the garage and plug it in about two hours before leaving. I can go about 1 1/2 miles and water temp is up to normal even on very cold days. Without the heater temp takes about another mile to get to normal.
Cars and engines don't exactly have any significant problems with longevity here in Canada. And oil pan heaters are rare. Just use a good 0W-30 and you should be just fine in Maryland. And take it a bit easy the first few miles or so.
Would an oil pan heater improve my gas mileage on cold days? Even here in MD? I was considering one for this reason...
I e-mail Wolverine about how to deal with the cord attached to the heater. They said that the cord is about 6 feet long, and you string it under the car and have it dangle from a place that you can access easily from beside the car. On my car, right under the front bumper would work great. They recommend that you plug in overnight to get as much heat as possible into the engine, and they also state that their heaters don't heat intensely enough to burn the oil. Based on that response, I'm now seriously considering getting one. My original post
I have a (site sponsor's) Wolverine 250 watt pad glued to my oil pan. The cord routes toward the grille. I used a 3-foot heavy duty cord to go through the grille with the plug. Winter I leave it plugged in all the time I am home, even if I don't drive it for two days. Starts a lot better. This is an outdoor parked vehicle. Wife parks in the garage and so I don't mess with a heater on her vehicle. I have an outlet on a GFCI and a 3-amp fuze where I plug in outside the garage. A 10-foot cord makes the connection.
Thanks *** for sunny cali weather that i dont have to worry about that crap but as an aircraft mechanic i know a few coustomers that have those heating pads and they say they work wonders in subfreezing weather. Not only do they have oil pan heaters but they have cylinder heaters as well that makes the warming process even more effective.
"Cars and engines don't exactly have any significant problems with longevity here in Canada. And oil pan heaters are rare." Where in Canada? One of our roommates, years ago, was from Edmonton. When she first came to Colorado she kept wondering where all the plug-ins were. "Where do you plug in your cars?" Apparently up there they're provided wherever people park. It's taken for granted - everybody has some kind of block heater. But oil pan heaters seem less common than coolant heaters. Why? I'd think heating the oil and engine directly would be better than just heating the coolant. Is there a reason coolant heaters are so much more common? Maybe because in SUPER-cold temps the antifreeze could actually freeze? Does anything bad happen when warm oil runs through an oil passage that's still at subzero temps? Any bad thermal/chemical reactions? How much do these oil pan heaters cost? Seems like a good idea actually. My Land Cruiser's coolant heater (rad hose type) draws 600 watts. That's not inconsequential. Leave it plugged in all night, every night, and you're talking over twenty bucks a month in electical cost. At that point you'd better have a solid reason for doing it. - Glenn
A coolant heater would allow a lot of thermal tranfer throughout the engine, as the coolant covers a large surface area there within. The bulk of the oil however is sitting at the very bottom in a steel or aluminum pan exposed to the cold draft. Having an oil cooler via engine coolant unit would help with further transfer, but unless the entire block warms sufficiently above the cold, little though some effect will be had (when dealing with extreme cold, any heat helps). I think a coolant heater has the added benefit of enabling quicker time to temp for the coolant, and thus the windshield will be defrosted sooner and the cab will be warm and ready for the "get it done" operator. As far as seeing a fuel savings from the use of a block heater, well you just might at the pump, but the cost will be transfered to the electric utility bill to some degree.
What I do after getting out of bed on cold mornings is go plug in the pan heater, get ready for work (takes about an hour for me), and by the time I leave the oil is considerably warmer and startup is much smoother. If it's super cold out, 2 hours of heating will do more good than 1 hour. The 250 watt pad gets very hot (it will burn my hand) and don't leave it plugged in all night because of that (don't want to cook the oil or waste energy).
Well, here in th efrozen north when the full brunt of winter hits, you need some type of heat source to initially warm the engine before starting. During a mid winter cold snap temperatures can go down to -35C or colder for perhaps weeks on end. I have found that a heat pad glued to the pan to be quite effective in warming the oil if it is turned on for approximately two hours before a scheduled startup. I always use a 0W-X for the winter months as well. On my vehicles not equiped with heat pads I use engine coolant block heaters. They are effective in providing some initial heat to the block but seem to do little in warming the oil in the pan. Again, only a couple of hours of prewarming is required. The coldest we have reached overnight in the past couple of years was -49C. All vehicles started well and were drivable after a couple of minutes of warmup.
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